In 2006, the film Boy Culture (based on Matthew Rettenmund's 1995 novel of the same name) generated a cult following, thanks in large part to lead actors Derek Magyar and Darryl Stephens. In that movie, Magyar played a gay escort, X, who broke the fourth wall and told the audience about entanglements and sexcapades with various other characters, including his roommate, Andrew (Stephens).
Now, Boy Culture: Generation Xa film that has also been made as a six-episode serieswill stream Tuesday, Nov. 7, on all platforms. This time, X and Andrew are now both 40, broken up and share a home out of financial necessity. Plunging back into sex work, X has to adapt to changes in that industry, including ageism and technologyand there's the matter of Gen Z twink Chayce (played by Jason Caceres), a taskmaster/pimp who guides him and has an answer for everything.
Magyar recently talked with Windy City Times about Boy Culture, raceplay (sexual role play in which the players act out racially charged situations) and more.
Note: This conversation was edited for clarity and length.
Windy City Times: I feel the need to apologize to you because Boy Culture: Generation X was a sequel to the series, which you filmed in 2018.
Derek Magyar: No need to apologize! It is its own thing, which is exciting. But the first thing you hear or see in Generation X is X's voiceover narration, which is what we're familiar with from the [first] film. I talk like it's a continuation, as if no time was lost. So while it's not technically a sequel, in some ways it isin all the good ways.
It's crazy that it was five years ago but I remember everything vividly. It's just been such a cool journey and I'm thrilled to talk about it with various press outlets. I'm not sure why it took so long to get hereand COVID didn't helpbut we're excited.
WCT: Was part of the allure of coming back because the whole crew [including director Q. Allan Brocka] and some of the cast returned?
DM: Of course. I had an amazing time working with Darryl. He and I have a really strong friendship. He and his partner have a beautiful child and they went through a surrogacy process; my wife and I went through this process, too. We're having a baby girl on Nov. 15.
So Darryl and I have always had lots to talk about, and we just click. We have a really organic chemistry; we didn't have to find it or work at it. It was just there. The first day with Darryl felt like we had shot it yesterdayit was so cool.
WCT: Like slipping your feet into an old shoe.
DM: Yesa really awesome old shoe. [Interviewer laughs.]
WCT: What was the hardest part of filming? It might've been the raceplay bit [in which a Black client wants X to say the N-word to him]. Did you actually say the N-word?
DM: No; I said "niller." That was not going to happen. That was definitely awkward and uncomfortable but the way we handled it was great. We kinda made light of it and found a word that made it look like I said something else. I was anxious about it but it worked out in a really nice way.
There's something interesting about that whole sequence. There are people who like to be called certain things across the board. It's kinky and it's their fetish. While we may find it uncomfortable or weird or not acceptable, within their own [confines]especially since they're paying for X's timehe found a way of justifying it. It did make sense to X in that moment. People could like eating spaghetti off a naked body, [engage in] a foot fetish or want to feel like a piece of shit. It's wild what people are into, so I think there's truth behind [the raceplay] but it was a complicated thing for Xand for Derek.
WCT: Like I say, everybody's got their something.
DM: Yes! That's exactly right. Like I said, X was not okay with it but he found a way to justify it, in this twisted way. The client made it sound like if I had NOT said it, I was being racist. It was messing with X's head, in a way.
WCT: I have to mention Chayce, who makes such an impact in the film. You either like him or hate him; there's no in-between.
DM: Yeah, I agree with that. He's similar to Joey [played by Jonathan Trent in the 2006 movie] in that sense; you either loved or hated him. Chayce brings some enjoyable levity; his character is stereotypical in some ways but he's also truthful. He's not subtlelet's put it that way.
WCT: What do you hope people get out of Boy Culture: Generation X?
DM: Even though it took a while to put all of this together, the idea of continuing the journey was always something we were interested in.
I think, in a lot of ways, that it still feels very current. The takeaway is one of enjoyment; you connect with these characters and I hope that you want X and Andrew to work it out. I think the core of the film and series is a love story. Their relationship has become one of mutual benefit without the sex; it's a marriage of convenience, so to speak. It's sad that it's so transactional. You don't really find out the truth until the last [part], for now. X is not good with emotions and opening up; he's vulnerable in a new way. But the hope is that there's still a chance for X and Andrew.
Boy Culture was such a special film when it came out. It was a relatable story, regardless of sexual orientation. I think it still carries on. These are universal characters, in a way. With X, there are good and bad things to take away from him. I believe that communication is the most important thing you can have in a relationship, and X is a terrible communicator. In this case, X waited too longand he's paying the price for doing so.
WCT: X's veneer started to crack when he bonded with the 15-year-old kid.
DM: YesI love that part. He saw himself in that kid, in a lot of ways. That's another part of the story that is very truthful, and that is very relatable. It's a sad truth when you're that age and you don't think you can be truthful to who you are. It can be tough enough around family and friends, but now you're shamed for being late for coming out at 15 or 16. It's like you can't win.
It's a very sad time. We're living in this age of awareness and wokeness that can be really positivebut that can be negative when it's used against people in a certain way, where if you're not woke enough then you're not part of the crew, so to speak. You can feel like an outsider who's not good enough, and that's not okay. There's so much polarity in the worldreligious, sexual and political. There's just a lack of understanding and empathy.
It's a big turning point for X. He really wants to helpand that's the beginning of him realizing that he needs to be truthful to himself and the people he loves.
WCT: It's interesting to hear you speak this way. I feel like these are things you also want to teach your daughter.
DM: Absolutely. That's the short answer and that's all that needs to be said.
Raising a child today is complicated and being a good parent is complicated. My wife and I believe in openness, communication, support, community, putting your phones down and not putting a screen in front of a 5-year-old to get them quietalthough I'll probably end up doing it every once in a while because God knows how crazy things can be. But I think we're going to be parents who go with the flow and who listen.
Ask me in two years, though, and I'll probably say, "It's totally fucking different!" [Interviewer laughs.] I'm 40 and having a child at this age has taught me a lot. I've lived enough of my life where I've gotten a lot of things out of my system. I think the maturity of my wife (who's just a couple years younger than me) and me will be beneficial to our child.